The Hot Chocolate Hacks That'll Get You Through the Rest of Winter

Or at least make seasonal affective disorder a bit more bearable. Observe.

hot chocolate upgrades
Chelsie Craig/Kara Miller

I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’re familiar with the beverage that makes cold weather feel like you imagined it back in August and not like it actually is (I think we can all agree on the fact that winter needs to be over ASAP). So I can cut right to: Regular old hot chocolate is even better with a few tiny tweaks. If you’re thinking, Oh! With alcohol? you are correct. But if you’re thinking, Aha! With candy! you are also correct.

We'll walk you through exactly how to take your cocoa to the next level. The ingredients? Bust out some Junior Mints, peppermint vodka, whipped cream, chili powder, and Oreos, because you might as well try them all (not in the same mug, don't worry). Actually, you could take some inspo from TikTok hot cocoa influencers and go all out with a whole hot cocoa "charcuterie" board featuring these hot chocolate toppings. And if you do want to taste each one of the cocoa concoctions below—which, trust me, you do—you could always pour a lil shot of hot chocolate into an espresso cup and create mini versions of each drink combo for a full-on hot cocoa bar vibe.

Okay, now that you've got some ideas, it's time to get the Swiss Miss packets ready to go...we're *so* close to the end of winter, and this last cozy pick-me-up is what's gonna get you through. Join me on this rewarding journey toward discovering the best boozy, sweet, and even spicy hot chocolate toppings you will ever stir into your mug of cocoa.

1. Make it dessert

Dip the rim of your mug in frosting, crush up some Oreos, and dunk your rim into the Oreos. And voila, it's a cookies-and-cream cocoa experience.

2. Make it spicy

Whisk in a square of dark chocolate, a dash of cinnamon powder, some vanilla extract, and a pinch of chili powder. Top with ’mallows and a cinnamon stick. You will not regret adding that extra kick.

3. Make it minty

Are you obsessed with mint chocolate chip ice cream? Stir in a handful of Junior Mints, and garnish with a toothpick packed with the candy and a fresh mint leaf, ya know, for health.

4. Make it cold

No one said you had to have it can totally make yourself a frozen hot chocolate. Just place cocoa mix, milk, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth, and top with whipped cream.

5. Make it complex

Steep some chai in a quarter of a mug’s worth of hot water, then combine with your hot cocoa. That cinnamony flavor tho!

6. Make it boozy

Yes, this is the one you've been waiting for. Add a shot of Irish cream amaretto, peppermint vodka, coffee liqueur, or cinnamon schnapps and you have a hot cocoa cocktail.

Photographs by Chelsie Craig

Food styled by Beth Pakradooni

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